June 2, 1919 (Greenwich, CT) – June 9, 1944; 25 years old
Married to Eleanor Brown Wason on February 4, 1943 in Greenwich, CT (passed in 2013 at 93); no children
Last local address: Wife, Eleanor Wason lived at 53 Wall Street, Norwalk
Enlisted on February 9, 1942
Service number: O-1309997
Unit: 82nd Airborne Division, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, Company G
Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (see below) and the Purple Heart Medal
He was Killed In Action at Sainte Mere Eglise, France during the Normandy Invasion.
From militaryhallofhonor.com: On 7 June 1944, Second Lieutenant Donald Bryant Wason was serving with Company G, 2nd Battalion, attached to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations. On that day, 2Lt Wason’s unit was in action against German forces in France. Commanding a rifle platoon of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 2Lt Wason led the initial charge across the bridge and causeway over the Merderet River. The assault was launched in the face of heavy cross-fire from German machine guns nested in emplacements at the western end of the causeway. Setting an example of exemplary courage and initiative, 2Lt Wason ran across the causeway and headed for the nearest machine gun nest. After wiping it out with grenades, 2Lt Wason was killed by a German rifleman. 2Lt Wason’s bold action set an example for others to follow by his winning the bridgehead in one of the bitterest battles fought during the early phase of the liberation. 2Lt Wason’s courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day earned him, at the cost of his life, the U.S. Army’s second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.
Distinguished Service Cross Citation
United States Army equivalent of the Silver Star Medal (Navy, Air Force)
The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross (Posthumously) to Donald B. Wason (O-1309997), Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving with Company L, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, in action against enemy forces on 9 June 1944, in France. Second Lieutenant Wason, commanding a rifle platoon of a glider infantry regiment, led the initial charge across the bridge and causeway over the Merderet River. The assault was launched in the face of heavy cross-fire from enemy machine guns nested in emplacements at the western end of the causeway. Setting an example of exemplary courage and initiative, Second Lieutenant Wason raced over the causeway and headed for the nearest machine gun nest. He wiped it out with grenades, and in the performance of this heroic action was killed by an enemy rifleman. His intrepidity set an example for others to parallel in the winning of the bridgehead in one of the bitterest battles fought during the early phase of the liberation. Second Lieutenant Wason’s intrepid actions, personal bravery and zealous devotion to duty at the cost of his life, exemplify the highest traditions of the military forces of the United States and reflect great credit upon himself, the 82d Airborne Division, and the United States Army.
— Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army, General Orders No. 79 (August 8, 1944)
From The All Americans in World War II, A Photographic History of the 82nd Airborne Division at War by Phil Nordyke
From an e-mail exchange between the author and Chris Daly, Phoenix, Arizona, son of Lt Wason’s cousin, “Don left a deep impression on my mother. If I could leave you with just one thought she had about Don it was this, ‘He might have been the best of them all.’
Lt Wason is buried in Long Island National Cemetery, East Farmingdale, New York, Section H, Site 8552.